Black Holes Always Put Things in Perspective

  |  August 21, 2008   |  Comments

What marketers can learn from the scientists who built the largest particle accelerator.

Recently, a colleague of mine blogged about the possible end of life as we know it. Leslie LaRue has almost 10 years of experience in marketing and public relations, and she also happens to be bit of science geek. In a nutshell, in the next few weeks, some scientists on the Swiss border will seek to re-create the conditions of the Big Bang theory in the form of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC); the largest particle accelerator ever built. Twenty-seven kilometers of experimentation designed to answer that fundamental question: what happened in the very beginning? We explore how the thought of a black hole overtaking Earth invokes a need to simplify things in marketing, or make it really crazy.

Shane Atchison: So, what's the deal with this thing?

Leslie LaRue: The Hadron Collider...it's the largest particle accelerator ever built. Most likely, it will answer a lot of fundamental questions in physics. It's great news for the world of science, but there is a slight catch. This experiment could create a series of small black holes, or turn Earth into a vast chasm of grey matter. A former nuclear safety officer actually filed a lawsuit trying to get them to stop the experiment.

SA: Really puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

LL: Definitely. I should mention there is also a chance that dragons and unicorns could fly out of the LHC. It's about that slim. But scientists being who they are, they won't discredit that possibility. This makes me a bit nervous. But it also gets me thinking.

SA: About what? What does this have to do with anything in performance marketing?

LL: You'd be surprised. Sometimes I think we have to stop and ask ourselves this question in marketing. Why am I doing this? How does it affect my bottom line? Can I eliminate some of the extra stuff I'm doing and streamline my efforts? Now is the time to simplify. (What better excuse than the end of the world?)

SA: So, you're suggesting that marketers sometimes attempt to do too much, spread themselves too thin without enough results.

LL: Exactly. My advice is to look at what matters to growing your business, to developing it long-term and putting money back into what makes it all worthwhile. Only you can be the judge of that based upon your overall goals for success. Perhaps it's condensing your KPIs [key performance indicators] from a list of five to two. Maybe it's hosting a panel instead of constructing a booth. Do you really need all that, or is just extra stuff?

SA: But where's the fun in all that? I thought marketing was supposed to be creative.

LL: Oh trust me. None of us got into marketing because we didn't want to have fun with it too. Even those wacky scientists who built the LHC are enjoying themselves. I found this music video filmed by the scientists themselves. Here they are, dancing around this giant particle accelerator. But what gets me, is even though this is dorky to the extreme, it's actually very informative. You understand exactly why they built this thing, what it does, and why they're conducting this experiment. This to me is the quintessential goal of marketing. Unique, informative, simple. We could all learn a lesson or two from this.

SA: Hmm. Maybe we should hire them for our next event?

LL: I was thinking the same thing. They'll be done with all the Big Bang testing mid-September. Event season is late winter, early spring. They're probably free. That is, if a few black holes aren't the outcome. Time will tell.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shane Atchison

In 1998, Shane co-founded ZAAZ to advocate a different approach to Web services — one that respects and delivers on the power of the individual and the promise of Web technologies. As CEO, Shane leads the company's long-term strategic vision of working with leading financial service organizations, consumer brands, startups, non-profits, and community-based organizations, helping each realize the potential of the Internet and its meaningful impact on their business.

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